Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Battle of the Belts

Local anti al-Qaeda organizations, called Awakening Movements, have been organized in the four provinces surrounding Baghdad. Al-Qaeda responds by targeting the tribal leaders. Bill Roggio describes the war for the grassroots.

Awakening movements have now been effectively established in the four provinces surrounding Baghdad. The Government of Iraq is funding the military arm of the movements, and incorporating the local tribal forces into provincial police forces. This movement is an integral part of the attempt to secure Baghdad and the outlying belts, where al Qaeda and Sunni insurgents have established networks from which they launch deadly suicide attacks inside the capital. The movements in Babil, Diyala, and Salahadin are still in their infancy, and the Iraqi government and Multinational Forces Iraq must take care to protect their leaders and support their efforts in the military, political, economic, and reconstruction spheres.

Al-Qaeda has responded with a campaign of assassination against local leaders who have thrown in with the US and the Iraqi government. But the US has been throwing punches to the head of the enemy too. Roggio reports at the Weekly Standard how one Coalition led by America, is fighting the leaders of another coalition consisting of al-Qaeda and Iran. It is a battle between alliances.

In Baghdad yesterday, Coalition and Iraqi raids were largely focused on the Mahdi Army. Also, Iraqi Special Operations Forces captured a Mahdi Army commander in the Kadamiyah district in central Baghdad yesterday. The Mahdi commander "is alleged to be responsible for providing financial, logistical, and political support for multiple insurgent groups and terrorist organizations" and is also "suspected of overseeing the training of insurgent recruits on terrorist methods including the construction and detonation of Improvised Explosive Devices and Explosively Formed Projectiles."

Two more Mahdi operatives were captured in Sadr City today. "They are believed to be members of the secret cell terrorist network known for facilitating the transport of weapons and explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, from Iran to Iraq, as well as bringing militants from Iraq to Iran for terrorist training," according to the Multinational Forces Iraq press release. Seventeen members of this network have been killed and 41 captured during numerous raids over the past three weeks.

Also, during a raid in Khanaqin, Coalition forces captured a "liaison to al-Qaeda in Iraq senior leaders, who assists in the movement of information and documents from al-Qaeda in Iraq leadership in Baghdad to al-Qaeda senior leaders in Iran." Al Qaeda leaders such as Saif al Adel and Said bin Laden, Osama's son, are being sheltered in Iran along with an estimated 100 al Qaeda senior operatives.

This is not as strange as it seems. The wars of the 20th century, including the Cold War, were conflicts between alliances. Sometimes alliances were created in the middle of the conflict. Battlefields assumed a particular importance within those contexts simply because they were places where the opposing forces could come to grips. Empty expanses of steppe, distant countries and isolated coordinates in the ocean roared with a fury because this was where the enemies clashed. The provinces around Baghdad, and perhaps Iraq itself is where the action is happening now.


Blogger sam said...

For the life of me, I do not understand why we allow Iran to get away with this shit. I understand we are not, to a certain degree, by fighting them in Iraq but it seems that it's just a forever stalemate as Iran continues to shelter and train AQ operatives insider her borders then supply those operatives with weapons and IED's and what-not and pump them into Baghdad. I mean it's like a terrorist pipeline stuck on hi-flow. It's a never ending supply of bad guys.

It's time to up-tempo this sideshow and start striking inside Iran. Disrupt the pipeline, strikes on the camps, take out the IED factories, Wipe out the Iranian terrorist trainers, Erase OBL's son.

Enough with this happy horseshit.

5/31/2007 05:51:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

I agree that it's happy horseshit. But two historical comparisons to bear in mind.

The first is that before Roosevelt could declare war -- not just the neutrality patrol or lendlease -- public opinion had to change. Bipartisan support had to emerge on the issue of whether the nation faced an existential test. Pearl Harbor did it for all Americans. 9/11 didn't do it for the Left.

The second is that America had to become the Arsenal of Democracy first. Today the relevant "Arsenal" does not consist, I think, of hardware but of a critical number of well-trained people. People who can wage intelligence war, organize tribes, speak local languages, fight the ideological debate, etc. And in that commodity America -- and indeed the rest of the West -- is in desperately short supply.

Of course, there is always the brute force method. That may come but only if we have in some fundamental sense, failed to wage the other type of conflict.

5/31/2007 07:24:00 PM  
Blogger Razor said...

Surely there are ways to punish Iran, even if the public is not ready for a full-scale conflict. Covert disruptions of their currency, power grid, or telecommunications system, for example, could exact a significant price and deepen the regime's political problems. Don't we have to assume something is being done? It would be too foolish for us not to exact a price for Iranian murder and mischief.

6/01/2007 04:32:00 PM  

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